Linden races to save Seward's life; Adrian says goodbye to the father he never knew
This week’s episode opened on a lighthearted musical number with plenty of bawdy wordplay and a spectacular soft-shoe routine. Wait, no, strike that… it was actually a bleak test run of Seward’s execution. T-minus 12 hours, kids.
Actually, make that 11 hours. As Linden paid Seward a visit, he was now officially under the gun (or the noose, as it were) and even surlier than usual. His opener: “What happened to your face? Boyfriend finally had enough?” The anxiety-fueled nastiness continued when Linden showed him the baggie full of rings found in Mills’ storage unit. He confirmed that one of them had belonged to Trisha, whom he referred to as “used goods” in the midst of a seething recollection about their shotgun engagement. The silver lining: Now that he’d ID’d the ring, Linden would be able to present Mills’ possession of it as tangible evidence that Seward most likely didn’t murder Trisha. She continued to hold Mills’ out-of-town alibi in Trisha’s murder close to the chest, of course. And I’m sure that definitely won’t come back to bite her in the ass somewhere down the road.
While Linden left a voicemail for Holder to bring Trisha’s file, Becker stopped by Seward’s cell to ruin the inmate’s breakfast with a not-so-thinly veiled FYI about the cemetery full of unclaimed executees next to the prison, basically saying, “You’re going to die alone and unwanted, you bag of almost-dead bones. And, by the way, enjoy your meat lover’s breakfast burrito!”
Becker made his way to the visitors holding area to find Linden shortly after Adrian and his adopted mother arrived for their visit. Back in the meeting room with Seward, Linden said she needed more evidence that the ring was Trisha’s and told him she’d called Holder to bring photos from Trisha’s apartment that might show her wearing the ring. They spoke about Adrian and Jack briefly, though Seward was all mentally scattered, asking Linden if she’d noticed the larch trees on the way in or the buzzing of the fluorescent lights above them. She chalked it up to the terror-producing adrenaline rush he was experiencing. Still, they were seemingly forging a bond as Becker and his goons abruptly came to sweep Seward away.
After an hour, Linden won a pissing contest over D.O.C. mandates with Becker and was allowed back into the meeting room. She found Seward in a full-on frenzy. He said they’d taken him for a second weigh-in, and he launched into hysterics that they were going to mess up the counterweight, his neck wouldn’t snap, and he’d be left dangling for the six minutes it would take to suffocate. He began a bitter tangent about his final meal (Salisbury steak and vanilla ice cream, if you’ll recall). Linden tried to rein him back in. Was there anything else he could tell her about Trisha’s ring? Alas, he couldn’t.
Though he had no information, he asked Linden not to leave — it would mean he’d have to go back to his cell. She offered to stay and tried to calm his nerves about Adrian being in the building — and, more to the point, Seward’s inherent badness being in Adrian’s blood. Linden insisted Adrian didn’t have to end up like Seward, but it didn’t so much comfort him as rile him up. He jolted out of his preoccupation, turning at her and hissing, “Is it me you’re trying to save… or yourself?” He asked about Jack and told Linden, “I hope he likes hot dogs,” a.k.a. the lunch Seward just mentioned eating. As Linden absorbed that surge of panic-anger, she told him, “You’re breaking my heart, Ray.” She sat back, not leaving and relegating him to his cell, but no longer indulging his histrionics.
Seward took only a few seconds to sheepishly signal her to pick up the phone. She told him plainly, “I’m not here for you.” He smiled bitterly, “Because I’m trash? … A monster.” He admitted a few of the horrible things he’d done, including beating Trisha in front of Adrian. She said she didn’t harbor any illusions about the men in this prison, including him. He asked, “Then why are you here?” Linden: “Because I made a mistake.” And so she had taken his confession. And so he was taking hers.
NEXT: Holder’s here, and he’s buzzin’…
Linden’s cell phone buzzed, and she stepped out to get the file from a drunken, dismal Holder. As she headed back inside, he headed outside for a smoke — even offered Adrian a ciggy when the kid stepped outside. Long story short, Adrian was not amused by Holder’s hoodrat banter. He said accusingly, “You’re acting drunk.” Holder countered, “I’m not acting drunk, I am drunk.” Somewhere around the time Holder defined himself as a “serial chiller,” Adrian’s interest was piqued. Holder, seeing he’d gotten to the kid a little, tossed his half-smoked cigarette into the ashtray and headed back inside to play hard to get.
Back inside, Seward’s stress was slightly abated seeing a photo Linden had uncovered of Trisha wearing the ring. She said she’d send it to the Attorney General for consideration. Per an earlier statement by Holder, this plan hadn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell of saving Seward’s life, but Linden didn’t share that, of course. Linden returned to the topic of Adrian, and Seward churlishly recalled how he’d told Trisha to get an abortion, noted he’d hated the boy when he was born. Linden saw through his emotional evasion; in fact, it seemed she found it almost playful. With a rare smile on her face, she stepped away to send the photo to the A.G.
And then the plot thickened. Out in the waiting room, Linden’s world was seemingly turning around when Adrian let slip something shocking. After saying he was worried he was put in this prison purgatory for lying to her, he said he’d only lied so his dad wouldn’t get in trouble again. Turns out, he had seen Seward at Trisha’s apartment on the night of her murder.
And so Linden went back to the meeting room, the smile no longer on her face. Seward was shout-to-the-rafters joyful about the chance he might not be executed, ordering absolutely no one to send back his Salisbury steak and vanilla ice cream final meal scheduled for an hour from then. Linden didn’t let the relief sit long before lobbing Adrian’s revelation at him. She felt played. They both felt betrayed. He reflexively back-shifted to his oblique mind games, in essence telling her, “You’ve already convicted me, so I’ll confess. But am I telling the truth? Did I actually murder my wife while my son watched? Maybe. Maybe not. In any case, none of this matters.“
Linden had no time for his wallowing and self-distancing. She ordered him to tell her once and for all why he was there that night. He started to open his mouth, a thousand prevarications sitting on the tip of his tongue, playing themselves out in his gleaming eyes. She didn’t have the patience for it any more. She flung the phone at the divider and took a lap around the room. Instead of giving her any answers, he only affirmed that he was a terrible father who abandoned his son. He added that saving him wasn’t a noble act. And, with that, Linden was done.
Holder intercepted her outside. (He’d gone to get more beer, which he didn’t drink so much as hurl at the unclaimed gravestones in some sort of exorcism of his still unprocessed feelings about Bullet.) Linden brought him up to speed. He sensibly pointed out there could have been lots of reasons for Seward to be in the apartment that night, none of which actually proved his guilt. He also used the occasion to dispense some drunken wisdom: Linden was a runner, once again cutting loose in order not to get hurt. She said meanly that they both were. He agreed, adding, “We never stay, and in the end, we lose everyone.” Just as the tension reached its peak, he diffused it, leaning to the closed window and telling her, “I’m not gonna try and kiss you again, Linden. You missed your chance.” She couldn’t help but chuckle.
Just as they were about to head back in, Linden got the call. Seward would be getting that Salisbury steak in an hour after all.
NEXT: Ray Seward, this is the beginning of the end of your life…
Upon seeing Linden’s grim expression, Seward already had the remainder of his life counted down to the second. Linden apologized, and he let out a stymied laugh at the absurd surreality of it all — that he’d ever allowed hope to pervade his consciousness in the first place. Regardless, Linden wouldn’t be deterred from demanding the truth. Why had he been at Trisha’s that night? Was he hiding something? Protecting someone? He talked about the look of possibility that can be seen in a child’s face, the same one that disappears as the child grows up and realizes how cruel the world can be. He used to have that look, he admitted; Adrian had that look the last time he saw him. Linden understood: Ray had gone back that night to get Adrian, to try to change the kid’s destiny by taking him out of Trisha’s world. But Ray arrived too late. She was already lying dead on the floor. Things would never change for any of them. And Ray became a victim, too, that night. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong man.
Seward had tears in his eyes of the irony. Linden told him Adrian was still waiting. She urged Seward not to abandon his son this time. She told him Adrian “will carry that with him every time he looks in the mirror — the broken parts of you, because you never let him see the best part.” She added, “I know what it’s like to never have that.” Seward consented to see his son.
While Holder smoothed down a nervous Adrian’s hair, Linden accompanied Seward to another room. He even flirted with her a little before getting all Our Town, acknowledging that “Everything goes so fast.” Linden futilely said the governor could still come through, but Seward thanked her for all she’d done to try to save him. They heard the series of doors opening closer and closer to the visiting area. Outside, Adrian approached his father’s room. Becker was the last stop before the visit, and it seemed the first time the C.O. and the boy had really looked in each other’s eyes. In a cruel, curious turn of events (and what I think many of you will consider confirmation for your suspicions about Becker), the guard suddenly put the kibosh on the father-son reunion. He brusquely claimed visiting hours had ended an hour before Seward’s execution. Seward unleashed a psychotic tantrum, repeatedly roaring at the guards restraining him “I WILL KILL YOU!” Just outside the door, Adrian heard it all and shuddered. As the guards took Seward away, Linden said urgently that he should look outside his window at the trees. With less than an hour until his death, Seward was utterly broken. And so was Linden. Holder had to take her phone away as she shrieked at the first person she reached, “It’s over,” he told her. And her sobs made it clear she understood.
Seward’s execution preparations complete, he began the long (but also incredibly short) walk to his own death. Paralyzed by fear, bereft of words, he could only let out sporadic grunt-moans as his legs collapsed under him. In a surprising show of force, Henderson bellowed, “GET UP AND BE A MAN! WALK! WALK!” It did the trick, and Seward plodded on, but yikes! The guards halted briefly to remove his ankle shackles. Shivering, Seward turned to look at the larch trees as Linden had suggested. Through his tears, he saw her standing there with Adrian. The boy waved, and Seward found the strength to pull it together.
Atop the platform, Seward shook uncontrollably as the warden read the final proclamation of his sentence. Linden, who’d run back inside, was there for his final words: “Salisbury steak’s not steak. It’s ground beef.” They shared a mischievous smile, and Seward said, “Now, let’s get this show on the road.” Becker fastened Seward’s legs together, but when it came to put the bag over his head, Becker got a terrified look in his eyes and stepped aside. Henderson took over, finishing the final preparations. Seward’s head covering inflated and retracted with his sobs, and the camera cut to one last look at the phones that did not ring. Then came the sudden drop. Seward’s greatest fear became a reality — his neck didn’t break instantly, and he was left to swing. Linden and Becker et al stood by, beholding the ghastly sights and sounds of the life being choked out of an innocent man. Seward’s suffering eventually ended — mercifully much sooner than six minutes — and Linden let out her own final gasp. The case that had so haunted her was brought, at least in part, to an end.
The conclusion of this case is only a few sleeps away, Killing fans. After the dialogue-heavy, one-act play vibe of tonight’s episode, do you feel prepared for what will certainly be an action-filled finale? Did you take the look in Becker’s eyes in the last scene (not to mention his refusal to let Adrian see Seward) as an admission of guilt? Are you, like me, getting feeling more and more creeped-out by Henderson? Will you miss Peter Sarsgaard next week? And can we figure out the connection between Adrian’s drawing and the Piper already?!